Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Understood

"It's bad enough not to be doing what your passion is...It's twice as painful to be doing something that's within the work of what your passion is. The very work itself demeans what you love."

-Dustin Hoffman, actor
Full LA Times article here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dear Santa,

I've never been very good at this. Ya know, asking for what I want. Even as a kid, I barely remember asking for a particular toy or the "must-have" item of the year. Granted, I may have the world's worst memory so it's possible that I just don't recall correctly. I do, however, have emotional memories. What I mean is, I remember "feeling" nervous or uncomfortable asking for what I wanted. What if it was too expensive? What if I didn't really like it once I had it? What if it wasn't cool enough? What if it didn't look good on me? What if I'm being selfish? Half the time, I didn't even know what I wanted, perhaps due to that questioning voice in my head.

I envied my sister, she knew exactly what she wanted and never hesitated to ask for it. She was confident in the asking and confident in the receiving. This amazed me and I didn't understand it. How did she know exactly what she wanted and then not think twice about voicing it?

Fastforward to our adulthood, things haven't changed much. Of course, the things we desire are different but my sister still knows what she wants and creates a plan to get it. Having never really learned how to know what I want and own it, I still flounder. I'm not a total lost cause, I can usually pinpoint what I don't want now and on occassion, I can sense what I want and admit it to myself even if I can't or don't express it to others.

Looking at the state of the world and the hunger, poverty, war, and sickness that pervades it, I find it difficult to ask for more. And yet, I recognize that by denying who I am, I miss my opportunity to give the world, perhaps, what I was created to offer it. Reconciling these things is my challenge and I think it's something I will wrestle with forever. But I hope to continue making progress, discovering what I want, taking steps toward those findings and participating in this thing called life.

I know, I never finished my letter to Santa but I'm working on it. May each of us find and display the best of who we are, the desires of our hearts and the dreams of our childhoods sooner rather than later. Peace to you this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Reminder About An Artist

If you are still looking for gifts for the wonderful people in your life, let me remind you that Lynn Russell offers the most beautiful, handmade, letterpress calendars! I do not exaggerate. Well, I do but I'm not right now. I bought her 2008 calendar and intended to give it as a gift but once it arrived and I saw that it was even more beautiful in person, I couldn't do it. So, I kept it...all to myself. (Sorry, mom.) I still LOVE it and I plan to frame some of the designs when I have some extra money so I can continue to enjoy them. Seriously, this is one of my very favorite possessions.

I believe artists have an important role to play in our lives and in our world. If you're an artist, you know you are doing what you have to do. Lynn is one artist trying to make a living and support her family by doing what she loves and making the world a more beautiful place. She's feeling the effects of our current economy, as many are, so she's offering a holiday give-away which you can read about here. (You have until Friday, December 19th to purchase a calendar and enter the drawing.)

I'm obviously a big fan of artists so please, support them! Visit your locally owned shops where local artists may sell their art or check out etsy or buy tickets to a play/music or live music performance. Art changes us. It adds beauty to the everyday and couldn't we all use a little more beauty?

Happy Holidays, everyone.

**Edit: Here's another artist to check out for gifts this holiday season. Photographer, Steven Johnson, has many stunning photographs so please, visit his galleries and consider purchasing a print.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vocation

Two definitions from Dictionary.com:
Vocation
1. a particular occupation, business, or profession; calling.
2. a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career.

Words from others on the topic:
“Each man has his own vocation; his talent is his call. There is one direction in which all space is open to him.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

“An unfulfilled vocation drains the color from a man's entire existence.” -Honore de Balzac

“Vocation is the spine of life.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

“The artist vocation is to send light into the human heart.” -George Sand

“The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people.” -Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

“If each one does their duty as an individual and if each one works in their own proper vocation, it will be right with the whole.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Vocations which we wanted to pursue, but didn't, bleed, like colors, on the whole of our existence." -Honore de Balzac

"To hunger for use and to go unused is the worst hunger of all." -Lyndon B. Johnson

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wandering At The Moment

I literally wandered around LA last night because I couldn't decide where I wanted to go. All I knew was that I didn't want to be home. I started in one direction but decided I didn't want to go there so I turned around walked back to where I started. As I continued to walk and turn and walk and turn, I was thinking "this is my life and it's pathetic." So, I've decided to spend the evening making lists. Not Christmas lists (although, I ought to at least start thinking about shopping) but rather lists of things I want to do/be and possible steps to get there. I know, revolutionary. Most of my processing and evaluating takes place in my head but I do take time to write it down from time to time, in fact, I've probably done this at least once or twice already this year. That's not going to stop me! I mean, it can't hurt to do it again...right? I don't expect to have any epiphanies as a result of this exercise but I do hope it allows my brain to breathe a bit, it's suffocating at the moment.

Evaluating and re-evaluating one's life is exhausting! I'm not sure most people spend this much time pouring over their direction, choices, calling, desires, dreams, etc. I have no way of comparing and it hardly matters. The point is, I want to believe that I have a true calling or purpose, that all of us have specific jobs to do while on earth. Perhaps it's just a romantic notion but I have to believe there is more to life and vocation than trying to pay the bills. Frequently, I hear people say they genuinely love what they do and I desperately want to relate to those words. I know life is about the journey and I don't mean to discount the importance of that piece. However, right now I'm just wandering without any direction, hoping my dream life drops out of the sky. I don't know where to turn and I can't see beyond my fears, doubts, limitations and excuses. I'm in my own way. Isn't that great?

If you are one of those who have already discovered your true vocation, celebrate it.

Okay, I'm off to make my lists.

Not all who wander are lost...(but I sure am.)
~J.R.R. Tolkien (and Me)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The First Amendment Alive And Well

After work last night, I went for a walk along the beach (the sound of the ocean is good for my soul) since I had some time to kill before I would be able to meet my roommate, who was going to let me back into our apartment where my keys were residing at the time. I started in Venice and ended up at the Santa Monica Pier. As I approached Ocean Avenue, I could hear and see a crowd of protesters. With Prop 8 recently passing in California, I assumed that was the reason for this protest and I was correct. I was excited to stumble upon this demonstration of our country's First Amendment rights. As my sister recently said, "I love democracy!" If we don't like something, we have the right to say something about it and many have been doing so for centuries. It's a thing to be celebrated, in my opinion.

Honestly, I was quite surprised that Prop 8 passed, perhaps I was naive. I haven't done enough research to understand why it passed. The point is it did and many people are assembling peacefully across the state (and country) to voice their disappointment, hurt, frustration and anger. Of course, there are those standing on the other side of the issue but there doesn't seem to be as many, perhaps because they are happy about the result and find it unnecessary to act at this time. (I only saw three "Yes on 8" protesters last night and they were too far away to photograph given the darkness.)

Below are some images from the protest I unexpectedly attended and that were accompanied by chants like:

"What do we want?
Equal Rights!
When do what them?
Now!"

"Gay, straight, black, white, marriage is a civil right!"






Tuesday, November 11, 2008

At The Moment I'm Locked Out Of My Apartment

Even so, I feel better than yesterday and for that, I am grateful. Just thought it might be wise to share that little update.

Monday, November 10, 2008

At The Moment I'm Freaking Out

Unfortunately, I freak out more than I'd like to admit. I prefer pretending I'm strong and able to "go with the flow" but the truth is I'm mostly a mess. At least, that's how I feel today. I've been on a quest for contentment and balance most of my life. It alludes me still. I don't know what it will take for me to be fulfilled in life, to make the decisions necessary to bring me the happiness I so desire, to find the thing(s) that I seem to be missing. I often look back and try to discover where I went wrong. When was I supposed to learn the thing most everyone else seems to have learned? How did I end up this alone and this paralyzed? How do I move forward? How do I know which steps to take next? I know life isn't easy but is it supposed to be this hard? I don't know how to measure that, I suppose. I know in many ways I'm lucky and have little or no right to complain considering what so many others have to endure on a daily basis. Sometimes I appreciate that, sometimes I can't see beyond my own pain. At the moment, I'm freaking out but tomorrow will be better. I hope.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can

I want to document this beautifully historic event but I can't seem to find the words. The tears come easily, however. I have a vivid memory of listening to President-Elect Obama speaking at the 2004 DNC. I had two thoughts. One, "why isn't that man running instead of Kerry?" and two, "someday, I will vote for him for President of the United States." I never thought it would be this soon but yesterday, I did vote for him and did so with a sense of excitement that I've never experienced in a voting booth before. Americans came out and raised our voices and together, we overwhelmingly asked Mr. Obama to take us into the future. There are many people better equipped than I to state the importance of this moment in our history. I know I'm really lucky to have had the opportunity to participate in this particular election. And I know, this is a day I will never forget.

Thank you, Mr. Obama, for taking on this immense challenge and for giving me hope for the future. Thank you to your family who will sacrifice much over the next four years. Thank you to the many people who chose to get involved and actively support his campaign. We did it and we proudly celebrate today, tears and all.


Victory Speech in Chicago's Grant Park.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Weekend/Race Report: Nike Women's Marathon 2008


As I sit staring at the screen, trying to write a race report, it's hard to believe the weekend is over. It feels like such a blur as I think back on it and I'm still processing it so the words might come clumsily here.

The weekend itself was full of reunions as I connected with family, friends from college, and friends from KC. It was really fun to run into each one even though, it seemed there was little time for conversation. My phone rang more in those first couple days that it had all year long! It was crazy but eventually, everyone arrived and checked in to their hotels so the exploration of marathon and San Francisco activities could begin.

The W. women represent! (Photo courtesy of Luke W.)

Friday was filled with visits to the Nike Expotique where we picked up our race day packets and visited vendors that were giving away free stuff, a trip to Niketown for event merchandise and to find our names amongst the 20,000 others on the outside wall, a casual dinner and an early bedtime since it was the best chance at a good night's sleep before the race. I met my college friends at Fisherman's Wharf on Saturday morning to decorate our singlets with our names as well as the names of those we were running in honor/memory of. We walked down to Boudin for a delicious lunch, clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl for me, and walked along the bay enjoying the views. I sat on a park bench while the others made their way to Ghiradelli Square and after a stop at Lombard Street and a quick hello to my family at Union Square, we continued on to the TNT Pasta Party. John Bingham was his usual comedic self and it was another moving, energized and entertaining evening that got us excited and ready for the morning. My roommate for the weekend, Jen, and I, headed back to our room and began the checklist of all the things we needed to lay out for the morning. This was the first time I had thought about the fact that I was in SF to do another marathon. WHAT?! All of a sudden, I was nervous and trying to figure out exactly what I was thinking when I signed up for this again! I began to remember how much it hurt and how exhausting it was and how much I swore I would never do another full marathon! Too late now. We laid out all our gear-- and I have a lot -- and we attempted to sleep.

The Start Line!

After a restless night, I woke up 30 min. before my alarm. Okay, fine, it was going to be that kind of day. As I got ready, I wasn't nervous at all, I was too tired to be nervous. I met my team and we headed out to the very cold start line. Of course, once I got out there I decided I had to go to the bathroom. Since our hotel was closer to the start line than the porta-potty line, I chose the warmer/cleaner option. I managed to cut my finger on a piece of metal that was sticking out from the stall door. Ugh. I found an aid station but it was not yet stocked so a guy nearby had a bandaid which I graciously accepted and hoped a tetanus shot was not necessary. Back at the start, I saw my dad then my mom. She appeared totally ready and excited for it all to begin. I stood with my training crew as we waited for the clock to countdown and then we were off! It was dark and cold but we all expected that, it was early after all. We were layered with jackets, long sleeved shirts, gloves, scarves, hats and even pants in some cases. Brrrr! There was a coat check at mile 2.5 and I later would regret checking my extra layers because it NEVER warmed up and we NEVER saw the sun!

The race itself is difficult for me to describe since I often don't remember much and am pretty oblivious in the moment. My training partners are always pointing out things to me or asking about a particular event that occurred on the course and 99% of the time, I have no idea what they're talking about! What's happens to me out there? Here's what I do remember, we saw my dad, sister & Erik at mile 3 (yay!) and my brother, Luke, joined them at miles 11, 16 and 26, we saw other familiar faces along the way and I remember the first woman who said "go, Amy!" because I realized the sun had risen enough so that she could read my name on my singlet. I remember most of the hills, including a few new ones that were added to the course this year-- who's brilliant idea was that?! As I ascended one of the hills, I turned to Anna, my running partner, and said "my friends are going to kill me!" The hills seemed so much harder this year or perhaps I just chose to forget them. Either way, I was pretty sure I would be down a friend or two by the end of this thing. Oops. I remember seeing Joan Benoit Samuelson running-- such a hero for women! And speaking of heros, I remember the many names displayed on the passing runners. The reminders of why we were really there.

In Golden Gate Park at about mile 13, I saw my college friends, Katie and Ginny! I had been waiting all morning for them to pass me so it was exciting to see them and they looked super strong! I was so proud. They would pass me a couple miles later and I was amazed with their impressive run. At mile 16, when meeting my family, I recall asking them, "why did I decide to do this again?!" before forging on. Then I saw my sister-in-law, Andrea, also looking strong even though she said she was tired. We walked a bit together and then she was off to her impressive finish. I loved running into all these inspiring women!

Andrea couldn't be happier!

I'm going to pause here and tell you a bit about my race last year. Around mile 15, I had noticed the ball of my right foot was hurting but I didn't think much of it. I figured I had developed a blister in a weird place and kept going. (I would later discover I had bruised and blistered my right foot. Ouch!) It continued to get worse and I began to overcompensate which resulted in bad cramping in my left calf beginning at mile 19. The last seven miles, I wondered whether or not I'd be able to finish. All the stretching in the world was not taking care of the problem, neither was salt. It was all too little too late. I did finish but it wasn't pretty. Last year, I also lost my running partner at mile 2 so I did the majority of the race by myself.

Back to this year, I was determined to avoid the calf cramping and to experience this race with Anna who, I might add, walked the entire race with a full-size Pringles can in her hand! She was hilarious and a big hit with everyone she passed. I didn't want to go out too fast and I knew Anna would help me to stay at a relaxed pace at the start so it was all good. We stopped to stretch every couple miles as we were feeling really tight all morning long. I think the cold weather probably played a part as did my paranoia about cramping. At mile 20, I looked at the clock for the first time. Seriously, I had not focused on time at all for the first 20 miles and then all of a sudden I saw it and started to do the math. At this rate, I would finish with a slower time than last year! That was NOT acceptable! This was supposed to be easier and faster because I didn't have the cramping/bruising issues. I guess stopping 15 times to stretch and once to wait in a restroom line added up quickly. I started walking faster, knowing Anna was behind me and I figured she would catch up when I inevitably stopped to stretch AGAIN but when I did stop, I didn't see her. I put my sunglasses on and kept going.

The sunglasses were not on because it was sunny, it wasn't. They were there to protect the innocent runners, walkers and spectators that I might encounter over the next 6.2 miles. I had hit my "bite me zone" as John Bingham refers to it. With each step, I got more and more pissed off. At what, I'm not sure, it was all quite irrational. I didn't make eye contact with anyone, I didn't want anyone cheering for me, and heaven forbid anyone tried to talk to me! Wow, I never had a response like this. It should have been embarrassing since all these kind-hearted people were out there in the cold and mist to support me and help to cross the finish line but I was too busy being mad at them to be embarrassed. Shortly after mile 24, I found myself on pace with two women obsessively talking about how close we must be to the finish line. "Do you see the white tents? That would mean we were close. He said we were 1.5 miles away, I hope he was right. Do you think he was right? Are we close? Can you see the tents? Where's the mile 25 marker? Do you see it? I think he was wrong. How close are we now? How many street lights before the finish line? I still can't see the mile 25 marker. I think we have more than 1.5 miles to go. No, I think I can see the tents. Oh no, that's a different tent. The end of mile 25 is taking forever to get here." YA THINK?! Maybe if you'd stop talking about it the time would pass more quickly!!! It took everything in me to keep from taking them both out. I tried running faster to get away from them but then they would do the same thing. I crossed to the other side of the street to at least create some distance. In the last mile, I picked up my pace and finally got away. Still, I'm pretty sure mile 25 was twice as long as all the other miles! One of my coaches met up with me and helped keep me on pace to come in earlier than my finish time last year. I told her I just needed to come in 30 seconds earlier, anything but over! As I approached the finish line, I heard my family chanting my name and I was still in my ferocious "bite me zone" so my response to them was less than classy. I'll leave it at that, except to say that thankfully, they all thought it was funny and their laughter made me laugh which was SO needed! I picked up my pace, the finish line was right there and now I heard my college friends cheering for me too! Step, step, step, step, FINISH LINE! Choking back tears. What an emotional finish. I went from anger to laughter to tears instantaneously. Crazy!

The college crew after we all finished! (Photo courtesy of Aaron Routhe.)

Part of my family after mom and I both finished 26.2 miles!

I found friends for some pictures and then my family as we cheered on my mom during her finish. That's right, my mom's a marathoner! We shivered as we took more pictures then headed back to our hotels for warm showers and rest. That evening, we celebrated our accomplishments at E & O Trading Co. Dinner, martinis, good friends, family, it was grand.

The college crew at dinner.

The next day, everyone began their journeys home and I walked around the city a bit before taking the shuttle to the airport for a short flight home but not before a bird pooped on me. What a send off, San Francisco! It really was a great weekend but as usual, went by too quickly and I find that I had very few full conversations with anyone. It's my hope that the weekend was an experience none of us will forget.

The fam after dinner.

Collectively, my college friends and I raised $30,000 for the LLS! Add in my mom and Andrea, and we raised $37,000! With all 5000 TNT participants nationwide, the grand total is over $18 MILLION for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! THANK YOU for being a part of this journey with me. No matter what role you played, financial supporter, encourager, running partner, race day spectator or friend, I could not have done this without you. You have made such a difference in the lives of so many people and I saw lots of them on Sunday. There were thousands of people standing with signs and pictures of their loved ones that faced cancer and they thanked us as we passed. Their gratitude goes out to you, as well. You made it possible for me and my friends and family to be out there on Sunday sharing in this life changing experience. You are making it possible for the LLS to continue in it's mission to find a cure for blood cancers. I hope you'll consider staying involved and maybe even participate in your own endurance event with TNT. You won't regret it!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Two Beauties

The top photograph in this post is so interesting to me. Isn't it intriguing?

In the archives of the same blog, I came across this fabulous little conversation overheard by the writer. Divine.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Westside Update.5

LET THE COUNTDOWN BEGIN!
6.75 Weeks to Race Day
4 Weeks to Fundraising Deadline


And thus begins the FINAL preparations for this year's attempt to raise $3200 for cancer patient support/research and to complete all 26.2 miles of the Nike Women's Marathon. The final exam. Just breathe and relax. What? Am I the only needing to remind myself to breathe?! Okay, probably so but there might be some "sympathy pains" out there. Anyone?

Well, your "pains" (or overwhelming joys) may have more to do with Back to School season than with endurance events and fundraising because as we all know, if your local schools haven't already started, this is the week! Well, I'm excited to tell you that today is Audrey's first day of kindergarten! Audrey is our team's honored teammate and she's been in treatment for leukemia for over a year. Her mom, Katy, is training with our Westside team and Sunday, she shared that Audrey's doing really well, even as the doctors continue to increase her meds. Her strength is remarkable and her family is already planning the "end of treatment" party which is July 31, 2009! I can't imagine. Thankfully, Katy said Audrey's like a normal 5 year old nowadays and she's ready for school. I hope she had a great first day!

Speaking of school, my training feels very much like homework. I think about it everyday. What I'm eating, how much I'm sleeping, how active I've been, etc. And someone will ask me how much I ran/walked so I better be prepared with an answer! Well, here it is. I essentially completed 3 half marathons during the month of August and this past Sunday, I asked my coach if we could, please, get to at least 16 miles next week because I was feeling behind. I know, weird that I would ask for more mileage but it's true. I've turned into the kid that chooses to sit in the front of the room asking for extra assignments. Who knew?! Last season, 16 miles felt awful (mostly due to the midwestern heat/humidity we were fighting that day) so I'm looking forward to moving beyond that mileage and over that mental hurdle. We might even move right ahead to 18 miles...I wonder how that will feel?! I'll be sure to let you know.

In a previous update, I mentioned that I recently read Dawn Dais' "The Non-Runner's Marathon Guide For Women" and I'm taking one of her ideas which means I'm assigning you homework. (It's been a while since I've done that, I forgot how fun it can be! Don't worry, it won't be graded.) She had her friends and family send her short quotes or notes, often humorous things, that she could read when she hit particularly difficult moments in the race. Strangely, this didn't end up helping her but I think it would be fun and helpful for me. As in Dawn's case, the funnier and more sarcastic, the better! A mix of the serious and humorous will be great. It'll help me to remember that I'm not alone out there, that there's a group of people supporting me, even if from afar. So, put your thinking caps on and motivate me with your hilarity & wisdom! (No pressure! )

To recap, Audrey's an A student and doing great! My homework is to run/walk my tail off and keep telling people about this great cause. Your homework is to send me a short note for race day and to visit my website (website no longer active) if you'd like to make a donation to help other patients like Audrey. If you have any questions, I'm available for after school help.

Cheers,
Amy

-----
Donations are still being accepted at: Website no longer active.
Amy has currently raised $1745 and has a goal of $3200!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Things I've Done Today

-Dropped a shampoo bottle on my foot and cut my toe.
-Avoided paying an extra $40 for returning a rental car 2 minutes late.
-Poured scalding coffee on my hand.
-Missed 3 buses.
-Walked 14 blocks to work in heels, carrying a cup of coffee in one hand and a cup of ice in the other, all the while attempting to ice above mentioned burn.
-Spilled coffee on my shirt.
-Was 30 minutes late to work.

That was all before 10am. Humph. Hope your Monday morning was a bit less...harmful.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jen



My friend of 15 years, fellow TNT teammate, and San Francisco roommate has recently had a photo shoot with her friend, Laura, and I think the pics came out great! Both photographer and subject did a fabulous job celebrating this beautiful woman in a fun and even quirky way. And what a creative way to document Jen's experience.
Check them out!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Westside Update.4

In case, you're not following along here with this latest marathon adventure of mine and you're curious about how I'm doing (and let's face it, who isn't dying to know), below is my recent update:

Whew! Somehow, we've made it past the half way point and in exactly 2 months from today, I, along with 20,000 of my new best friends, will be sweating our little hearts out on the streets of San Francisco! Thank you for sticking by me on this journey, friends.

My Westside team is doing pretty well. (Like how I took ownership of the entire team, there?!) Most of the team has recommitted (meaning we've officially signed up with Nike and given a credit card # to guarantee that our fundraising goal will be met), full marathoners have made it to at least 13 miles, half marathoners to 9 miles, and as a team, we've raised $130,000! Our coaches and mentors continue to guide us through this process offering encouragement and expertise along the way. And we do our best to trust them and avoid taking detours to the beach as we pass by. Anna is my current weekend walking/running partner and she's great about reminding us to relax. I can't imagine why I forget to relax in the middle of 13 miles?!

As we're out on the course, we also lie...a lot. We tell ourselves thing like "this is fun," "we feel great," "it's a beautiful day and there's nowhere else we'd rather be," and "wow, we look great in spandex." And we tell some truths as well, "we're pretty lucky to have the ocean and mountains as the backdrop to our training," "we've accomplished so much on this Sunday morning," "if he/she can withstand chemo and radiation, we can certainly complete ___ miles," and "our only job is to endure." This past Sunday, we kept crossing paths with a man who was easily in his 70s and looking at him, you would think his running days had long since passed. We could not have been more wrong. Anna and I were both pretty sure he could kick our butts any day of the week! And he was wearing a shirt that read, "Run in feet. Dream in miles." He was our inspiration for the rest of our mileage, truly amazing. When we're out on the course, we're desperate to find things (any things) to keep us going and remind of us of why we're out there in the first place because it's easy to forget when you're body is trying to tell you it would rather be at the movies!

There have been highs and lows and I know there will be more of both in the coming months but I continue to recommit to this challenge and do all I can to keep myself motivated. I even bought a book over the weekend titled, "The Non-Runner's Marathon Guide For Women" by Dawn Dais and it's hilarious! She's completely sarcastic and I love it! It's good to laugh out loud about the craziness involved in marathon training and somehow, it's even motivating.

So, that's the latest from LA's westside. If you're following along with my college friends and I spread out around the country, we're all recommitted, doing well and have raised $17,286!!! (Katie has even reached her fundraising goal!) My mom and sister-in-law are also doing well having reached at least 14 miles and $3,621! Who knew we would one day find ourselves united for the same cause and running marathons to support it? Not me, that's for sure! Thank you, once again, to all those that have donated to me, my friends, and family members. We are all encouraged beyond words by your generous support. We'll need it even more over the coming weeks because it only gets harder from here. Thankfully, it also gets more exciting as we get closer to our goals and race day!

Anyone for a run?

Peace,
Amy

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Donations are still accepted at: Sorry, website no longer active.)
Amy has currently raised $1570 and has a goal of $3200!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Friday, After Work

I live in the most beautiful place in America. I sit beneath a row of baby palm trees, toes in the bright green grass, eyes upon the sand and ocean. There's a lovely breeze coming off the water and a steady flow of runners, walkers, moms with strollers, cyclists, tourists and locals. And yet somehow, this is most peaceful spot in the world. It's perfect. And the special thing about it is, this could be a description of any day here. In this moment, I have the perfect life. I am thankful.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Another Story From The Bus- "Bitch Sitting Next To Me"

If you're unfamiliar with bus rules and etiquette, let me take a moment to explain one of them to you. On all buses, there is a sign posted above the seats closest to the front that reads something similar to, "Please, reserve these seats for elderly and disabled passengers." The commonly accepted practice is that anyone may sit in those seats until an elderly or disabled person boards the bus, at which time those seats are immediately vacated and offered to these passengers. These seats are also frequently offered to parents with young children, even though the sign doesn't specify. Most people honor this practice and rarely is someone neglected in this regard. Okay, now for my story.

It's 8:52am and I've just gotten off my first bus. I 'm a bit tired this morning so even though, I'm not sure I have time, I'm stopping by the conveniently located 7-Eleven for a cup of coffee before heading to bus stop #2, which is just outside the store. After getting coffee and a banana and standing in line, I'm cutting it close but thankfully, as I leave the store the bus pulls up and I quickly board along with 3 other passengers. Everything appears to be normal, it's quiet, not crowded but full, some are reading, others listening to music, then seemingly out of nowhere comes a loud voice, "there's a bitch sitting next to me and she's not even 40!" What?! I know it's early so maybe I misheard that but everyone around this elderly woman can't help but laugh so I think she really just make that proclomation. I look up and see an elderly woman pointing and practically yelling, "There's a sign that says these seats are reserved and she's not even in a wheelchair!" She stands and walks toward the driver, who's concerned, and rightfully so, that this woman is standing on a moving bus but there's no stopping her. She continues, "this is ridiculous! I don't see any babies! These are reserved seats! That should be enforced! These are for ederly people and disabled people not young people! I don't know why she thinks she can sit there!" At this point, the entire bus is laughing because she's so irrate and going on and on about this great injustice. She ended her speech with "I hate kids!" as she walked off the bus. The poor girl sitting next to her handled it quite well. I bet she had no idea what was waiting for her when she chose her seat this morning!

Priceless. And when did 40 become "elderly?"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"Ask Me" by William Stafford

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and going from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

Friday, June 27, 2008

History Becomes My Teacher

Life is a bit unruly right now and therefore, not leaving me much time for writing on this blog. I'm not sure if it's lack of time or energy but the end result has been the same...long delays between posts. It's sad because it's something I enjoy and after reading through some old posts today, I was reminded that I write more for myself than for anyone else. So why do I make public? Good question and one to ponder at another time.

I have been making time to write here because of the commitment I made to be part of a team of fantastic women and I want to be as supportive as possible while also keeping my generous supporters up to date with my progress. Marathon training is quite time consuming but it's good for me. Exercise gives me an outlet to release my emotions from the day, be they good or bad and obviously, it gives my body strength and everyone knows that's important. Reading my posts from last season was fun and even informative. I can see how far I've come in my understanding of my body, my mind, my limitations, my strength. Over the past couple weeks, I found myself becoming gradually more frustrated. Why can't I run farther than this? Why are my friends, who haven't completed a marathon before (or any race in some cases,) able to run much farther/faster than me? I'm proud of them but what's wrong with me? I had many judgements for myself and I was slowing building resentment against my own body. Reading these old training entries somehow allowed me to accept my body, recognize my improvements and accomplishments and let go of the unspoken expectations I had placed on myself for this season. I'm sure I'll need reminders of this along the way but for today, I'm ready to move on, focused and determined but gracious.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tim Russert, You Are Missed

I didn't know him personally but like so many others, I felt like I did. Maybe it's the fact that we're both from Western New York or that I spent so many Sunday mornings watching Meet the Press and learning from him. Many of Tim's friends are telling their stories and offering eloquent statements. I won't attempt to improve upon them. I simply want to recognize that we've lost a remarkable man and I'm deeply sad for his family and for Buffalo. He is surely missed.

The following is an interview that Matt Lauer did with Luke Russert, Tim's courageous son.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Stories From The Bus

This week, on LA's Metro:

Story #1: An elderly woman sits in the aisle seat with a 20-something woman sitting in the window seat. The older is searching through her bag, as though she's looking for something to do more than a specific item. Ah, she decides on an activity, it's time to retire the teeth for the evening. To the likely horror of the stranger seated on her left, she proceeds to extract her dentures, carefully wipe them off and put them into a box. She continued to rifle through her bag and pulled out a pair of latex gloves. I got nervous but thankfully, she was just moving them to a new location in her bag.

Story #2: A gray-haired man, looks to be in his early 60s, stands up from his seated position for seemingly no reason. He chooses to stand for quite some time at the front of the bus. He's not talking to the driver as some do but just standing there, occasionally, looking back at the rest of the passengers. After a few miles, he realizes he needs to adjust his undergarments and right then, takes his time dealing with his apparent wedgie...in front of the entire bus! Amazingly, no one said a thing but many chose that moment to look out the window and enjoy LA's scenery, which happened to be a gas station and a highway. He got off at the next stop and finished the job he started on the bus, that's right, he picked another wedgie as we drove on by!

For those wondering, according to dictionary.com, the definition of wedgie is:
"Informal. The condition of having one's underpants or other clothing uncomfortably stuck between the buttocks."

Thank you, LA Metro passengers, for entertaining me on a fairly regular basis.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

TNT Training Update

For anyone curious about my Nike Women's Marathon training, click here for the latest update.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Good Samaritan

For those of you who think LA is a scary city full of self-centered people, let me tell you a little story about my evening. As I sat in the office at my latest temp job, I overheard a few people mention dark clouds and the coming rain. Uh oh. I didn't have an umbrella in my bag. I know better than this. I've been relying on public transportation for two and a half years and I know one should never leave home without cash, a cell phone, a book, and an umbrella...even in southern California. As I left the office, it was only lightly raining but as I arrived at the bus stop, it was pouring. A guy came over with his umbrella and offered to share it with me. His name is Mark and he's my new best friend in LA! We got on the same bus and he told me where his stop was, which happened to be the same as mine. He walked me all the way to my apartment! Now, I know what you're thinking, he'll show up at my door in the middle of the night or something but I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt. He said he was "overdue for a good deed" and I was desperate and happy to oblige. I love life's unexpected moments and I'm glad that I'm more open to accepting them.

So, the next time you think of LA, think about how kind it's citizens are and plan a visit. Who knows, maybe Mark will share his umbrella. :) Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go put an umbrella in my bag.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

1,694 Miles


Thanks to my dad, one of my favorite activities is to hit the open road. Ironic, since I don't own a car and haven't for at least two and a half years. Over the weekend, I accompanied a friend on her move from Missouri to California. I did that same drive last fall with my sister and it was just as beautiful this time around. The views are just spectacular so if you ever have an opportunity to spend 24 hours in a car headed west, take it and take me!


"O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I love you, you express me better than I can express myself." ~Walt Whitman

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Support A Good Cause





Last week, I sent out my first email to family and friends, letting them know that I'm partnering with Team In Training again this year in order to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I'm also posting it here in case you would like to join me in this effort. Thanks, everyone!

******
Dear Family and Friends,

Last year, I had the distinct privilege of training for and participating in the Nike Women's Marathon with Team In Training (TNT). The event is a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and thanks to many of you, it was a great success. It was such a moving experience that I've decided to do it again! And this time I'm taking along at least 7 college friends, my sister-in-law and my mom! Our training has begun and I'm asking for your support, perhaps for the second time.

This year's training is a bit different since I'm doing it along side so many people that I love. Kristin, a college friend of 15 years, is one of them and while this is her first endurance event, this is not her first encounter with the LLS. In 2000, her husband, Gideon, was diagnosed with Acute Promylocetic Leukemia and thanks to the research that has been done thus far, he is cancer-free today! Gideon and Kristin have three beautiful children and we are all grateful for the success of Gideon's treatment. We want more people to have the same opportunity at life. That's why we're running.

All of us with TNT are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, myeloma from taking more lives. I'm completing this event in honor of my friend Gideon and all those battling blood cancers and in memory of all those who lost their lives to the disease. These people are the real heros on our team and we need your support to cross the ultimate finish line--a cure!

I am incredibly grateful for all the support I received last year. And I appreciate that many of you support deserving charities throughout the year. If you can consider this one, I'd like to ask that you please make a tax-deductible donation to the LLS on my behalf. Donations can be made at my website or if you would prefer to make a donation by check, feel free to contact me for instructions.

I hope you'll stop by my website often to check on my progress, visit the blog my college friends and I have set up to document our experiences, http://nikejournal.blogspot.com and even forward this email along to others that might be interested in partnering with a worthy cause. We welcome all support!

On behalf of the LLS and the lives they touch, thank you.

Amy

**********
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." ~Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I Hope, I Hope, I Hope

Of course you've heard of them, maybe even known a few. Those people who's response to any difficult or negative experience or emotion is to exercise. HA! My whole life I've been dumbfounded by that response. It seems so unnatural. I mean, sure, I've had days where I felt better after a workout but that's where it ended. If I felt depressed, chocolate was my natural response-- NOT hitting the pavement.

Then last night, the strangest thing happened. I had a difficult day and felt frustrated and completely drained. I was scheduled to run/walk but I just didn't think I had the energy and planned to postpone a day. As I sat zombie-like on the couch, I felt an almost uncontrollable and overwhelming need to physically work out the frustrations of my day. I had to have a place to put it all. Afraid I might lose momentum, I threw on my running clothes and hit the pavement. It wasn't the best 2 miles of my life but it was a great release of all the negative emotions and even tiredness I was feeling. I was lighter, happier, more peaceful at the end so it worked. Whew.

I believed people when they said it was natural for them to run after a hard day. I just didn't ever think I would be one of them. I hope, I hope, I hope this becomes my natural response to...well, anything! Good or bad. Maybe someday. Until then, this seems like a good start.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Impatience and Peace


Thanks to the neighbors, this is the view that greets me each time I leave the apartment. Ah. Breathe. California has some of the most beautiful flowers with the most vibrant colors and it feeds my soul to lay eyes on them everyday. These are the things that keep me from becoming too frustrated in the midst of job searching. I haven't written about my experience in this area and I won't dwell on it now but I'd like to say, if one needs an ego-buster, try job searching. My plan was to move to LA, temp for a few months, add to the savings, travel internationally, come back to the states and look for a permanent job. Things have not worked out as I planned so I find myself making different decisions and re-evaluating my future.

Travel is the piece that is most concerning to me. I've never traveled internationally before and while I'm really nervous about doing it solo, I can't wait to see the world! My thoughts of spending 3 months or more in a culture have shifted to 10 days, anything just to be "there." I've been reading lots of blogs written by various people living in other parts of the world and living vicariously through them. But, perhaps selfishly, I want my own experience and like a two year old, I WANT IT NOW! On more than once occasion, I've come quite close to hitting the "buy" button on a flight to Italy. If only I could guarantee I'd have a job when I got back, I wouldn't mind going into debt over this trip. Of course, there are no guarantees. I just don't want to be one of those people so tied to the pocket book that they don't take risks or follow their hearts because of the "what ifs." I'm not much of a risk-taker, especially when it comes to money, so intentional debt is a difficult choice for me. It feels irresponsible.

So with all the noise in my brain over travel, employment, money, risks, and dreams, I'm grateful for the nature that surrounds me and offers serenity.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Birthday Recap


As kids, my sister and I spent many years celebrating our birthdays together since they are just two days apart. As adults, however, it's been a different story since we haven't lived in the same state since I was in college. And well, that was a while ago. Here it is 2008 and we find ourselves not only in the same state but in the same apartment! And here's how we celebrated our birthdays...

Thursday, April 17th (My birthday)
Thankfully, I was called for my first temp job, a great birthday present in itself, but it was made better by the fact that it was at Reb Bull which meant a relaxed atmosphere- jeans are encouraged! My tasks were quite mundane but it proved to be an entertaining day thanks to a co-worker who seemed to think she had just 8 hours to tell me everything about her life. Luck for me, we ended up having a whole second day to finish her life story since the project remained unfinished. After work, my sister, Melissa, picked me up and took me to Wilshire Restaurant where we indulged by toasting with some Pinot Grigio and sharing a couple appetizers we had never tried before, Hamachi Sashimi and Steak Tartar and followed it up with a couple desserts, Brown Butter Banana Cream Cake and Chocolate Pudding Cake. Oh my stars, everything was fabulous! Including this fun gift (but in black) from Melissa. When I arrived at home, there were beautiful flowers waiting on my doorstep from my dear friend, Michelle. I certainly felt spoiled. Thank you to everyone who sent birthday wishes, it means a lot to me.

Friday, April 18th (Day between birthdays)
Again, we both went to work but then I joined Melissa and several of her friends from work for a Birthday Eve Happy Hour at South, a new restaurant in Santa Monica. These girls know how to do happy hour, it lasted over 3 hours!

Saturday, April 19th (Melissa's birthday)
We slept in, always a good way to celebrate a birthday, and eventually, did a little shopping. Melissa spent the rest of the day with her boyfriend while I cleaned, went grocery shopping, and baked yummy Chocolate Cupcakes with Berry Ganache and Cinnamon Buttercream to be enjoyed the next day.

Sunday, April 20th (Day after birthdays)
Melissa had decided she wanted to celebrate her birthday with wine tasting at some vineyards in Santa Barbara County. Sunday was the day that all of us were available so my parents, Melissa, Erik and I took the 2 hour trip and visited Sunstone Vineyards and Rusack Vineyards. Both were lovely but we all preferred the wine at Sunstone. The coastal drive and the vineyards were beautifully scenic and the tasting itself was fun, as was the picnic lunch we enjoyed in the middle of the day. I look forward to future visits to vineyards and I highly anyone to give it a try, if they ever have the opportunity. Melissa, good choice and happy birthday! Below are some pictures from the day.

Sitting at Sunstone listening to live music.

Tasting some red wines in the second tasting room at Sunstone.

Dad and me in the wine cellar at Sunstone.

Welcome to Rusack Vineyards.

Enjoying the sun while wine tasting. Cheers to Melissa!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

10.19.08


A couple months ago, I posted a blog that included an email I had received from Amy encouraging people to sign up for the 2008 Nike Women's Marathon, a benefit for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Of course, I've written a lot about this event because I participated in it last year. While it was an incredibly moving and powerful experience, I never thought I'd do it again. One marathon was enough, right?

It was 4am on a March morning, I had yet to fall asleep so I gave in and picked up my computer to catch up on email. I had received another announcement about the marathon and remembered how great it felt to be part of such an important cause. Did I want to give it another go? No, that would be crazy. I hadn't forgotten the ice baths, the black toe nails, the pain! Or the honor patients, the moving stories, the laughter, the sense of accomplishment! It would be really great to share this experience with people that I love. This fall will mark 15 years of friendship for me and a group of girlfriends that met freshman year in college. Training and fundraising together for a marathon or half marathon sounds like a great way to celebrate this milestone, doesn't it? Of course not. Who's going to want to spend their reunion weekend running/walking the streets of San Francisco? Well, I sent them all an email titled "10 Reasons To Call Me Crazy" and threw out my idea and recognized that I would likely have a change of heart once I had a good night's sleep. But that was irrelevant because surely, these wise women would shake some sense into me and remind me that we don't get together to run long distance races.

The responses came:
"Call ME crazy but that actually seems like a really neat idea."
"It's actually kind of tempting."
"Ok, I am crazy...I'm considering too."
"I think I'm interested."
"I'm in."
"WWWWWWWHHHHHHHAAAAATTTTTTTT?????? Oh, the pressure..."
"I'm in, too."

What?! They were supposed to laugh at me and agree that I was crazy and sleep deprived. Instead, every last person responded positively, not committing but agreeing to consider it. Well, it's been about 6 weeks and several of us have already started training and even fundraising as we wait for the official TNT Kick-Off. Currently, 9 of us have committed to the marathon or half marathon, representing 2 countries and 5 states. It's possible that the team may a grow a bit as there's still a few weeks before registration begins in many areas. LA has an early bird registration so I signed up last week making my participation official! I still can't believe I'm doing it again but I'm really excited about sharing it with these dear friends and maybe even a few family members!

I have a goal to raise $3200 before August 1st. As exciting as it is to be partnering with such special people, it will make the fundraising more challenging. I'm up for the challenge so if you have any ideas for fundraising, please share. In the meantime, please visit my fundraising website (website no longer active) and feel free to pass it along to everyone you know and/or add it to your blogs and websites. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer.

If you would like to follow the progress of me and my friends, please visit TRAIN RUN HOPE CURE and feel free to comment. We need all the encouragement and support we can get!

Thanks to all who supported me last year and to all who will support me this year. I am grateful.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Art Of Science

Did anyone else not know that moths were so furry? Thanks for this science lesson, Steve.

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Baker's Dozen


I've not made many muffins in my lifetime but when I have, I've mostly been underwhelmed with the result. So when it became my job to bring the muffins to my family's Easter brunch, I was on a mission to find a muffin recipe that would change my luck. Sure, I could have purchased them at a bakery but what fun would that be? I ended up making three different types and I thought I'd pass along the two that won the best-muffins-i've-ever-made award.

The first is for these Raspberry-Topped Lemon Muffins that I found at SmittenKitchen.com, a website I really enjoy. The picture above is of the mini-muffins but I made the full-four-raspberry-sized muffins. Be careful of the cooking time, it suggests 35 min. but mine took less, maybe 27 min. These were my favorite, tasty and lovely!

The second recipe is the To Die For Blueberry Muffin recipe I located at AllRecipes.com. The only adjustments I made were to substitute buttermilk for milk since I was already using it in the other muffins and while I made two batches of batter, I only made one batch of the crumb topping and that worked well. Everyone loves blueberry muffins but it's hard to find a recipe that lives up to what you might find in your favorite coffee shop. This is as close as it gets, at least for me!

Happy baking!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Why On God's Green Earth


Global warming. We've all heard arguments on either side, it's a fact, it's a hoax. If you fall into the fact category, then you are likely doing things to reduce your carbon footprint and to encourage others to do the same. You may be more conscious of the food you buy, gravitating towards natural, fresh and local ingredients instead of packaged and processed foods full of ingredients you can't pronounce that have flown across oceans in order to be available at your local supermarket. You may use public transportation and/or drive a hybrid vehicle to reduce the amount of oil you consume. You may live by the motto of "reduce, reuse, recycle" and even compost your food waste. You may bring your own reusable shopping bags for groceries or other items to avoid adding to the size or our landfills. You may have made changes to your homes like unplugging appliances not in use, turning out lights when the room it is unoccupied, switching to energy efficient light bulbs and programmable thermostats to reduce the amount of electricity and natural gas necessary to run your household, even allowing you to save money. Of course, this is a small sampling of the things people are doing in an effort to take better care of the earth.

The thing is, whether you believe global warming is a problem or not, what harm is there is consuming less of the world's resources? Why is being more responsible with the gifts we've been given a bad idea? Why on God's green earth wouldn't we want to keep God's earth green?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mad About Color


I discovered the Mad Baker's blog today and it is filled with the most vibrant colors and spectacular cookies, cakes, and pastries! The above Lemon Meringue Tart was one of my favorite photos. Have you ever seen meringue like that? I have never made meringue of any kind but this makes me want to try! On the other hand, it makes me happy just to look at Karen's works of art.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

For All You Parents

I read a list of beautiful lies that one parent confesses to have told his little one recently. I think these are the kinds of lies I would tell if I were a parent or even better, the kinds of lies I would hope to hear if I were a child.

Heading East: Lies I've Told My 3 Year Old Recently

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

No One Is Alone. Truly.

Last night, I came across this blog entry written by Nicole J. Butler and I think it's a topic that most of us can relate to, no matter our occupation. Here are a few excerpts:

No matter what words follow "I am the only one", the subtext is the same: "There is something wrong with me." This pattern of thought isolates us. Causes us to withdraw from one another for fear of being exposed.

Last year was a record year for my acting career, and at the beginning of this year (when auditions were especially slow) I was asking myself "what if?" Y'all know the drill (all together now) "What if I never get another gig?" "What if last year was a fluke?" "What if they* discover I'm really just winging it all?" In my head I knew that trying to find answers to these questions was a fool's errand, but in my gut, I really wondered. In my efforts to shake these thoughts, I started painting more, reading more, writing, listening to music, planning travel...indulging my other interests. My rationale was that living a more well-rounded life would actually serve my acting, and if I never acted again, at least I'd have a well-rounded life.

Many of the other actors (some big names, some not) in the interviews and articles were saying the same things: "What if I never get another job?" "What if they find out I'm a fraud?" And then there were several who had reached the same conclusion that I have: That it's important to have other interests, other options, and people in your life that help you keep it all in perspective. I was relieved to realized that I am not the only one who had these thoughts, and that asking these questions doesn't mean I'm faithless, it means I'm human. And I'm really glad to know I'm not the only one.


Thanks, Nicole.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nike Women's Marathon 2008

I recently received the following email from Amy and thought I'd pass it along for any of you that might like to complete a marathon and/or actively support a good cause.

Ladies (& Gentlemen too!) ~

Nike has just posted some information about the registration of the Nike Women's Marathon this year. I want to be sure everyone is aware so we can all get in and complete this glorious event together. :)

The overwhemling popularity of this marathon has caused Nike to select participants through a random drawing this year. You will need to register for the lottery/drawing starting on March 4th and be sure you have completed your entry by March 18th. The good news is that this will again sell-out and raise lots of money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The bad news is that it could be a little tougher to get in as a participant.

However...if you sign up through the TNT program and commit to raising a couple G's for LLS then you're IN. I highly suggest this going this route. Raising the $$$ is a cinch. Once you tell people what an amazing thing that you are doing, they can't help but open their wallets and donate money for this incredibly deserving charity.

I have benefitted from the money that this charity has raised over the last 20 years. The dollars raised fund life-saving research and provide cancer patients a network of resources that become invaluable when you are facing a battle with cancer.

When I remember back to just one year ago at this time ~ I was coughing violently and didn't know why. It was waking me up at night and distracting my co-workers at the office during the day. I was scratching my itchy skin and wondering just how much lotion might eventually stop the itchiness. I was waking up at night drenched in sweat thinking my pajamas made me hot...but they hadn't ever before?

On March 5th I was diagnosed with stage III non-Hodgkins lymphoma and started the toughest chapter of my life. My battle with the big C. LLS and TNT were dropped right out heaven and in to my life. Ironically, I had been a participant during several seasons and had raised about $15,000 - never knowing anyone that had leukemia or lymphoma. Suddenly, it was me with the disease and the word "honoree" on my singlet. There I was at the early morning practice giving the team my best "thank you for what you are doing for us" speech. I could never thank the TNT participants without getting choked up. I still can not. In fact, just typing this brings tears to my eyes.

I hope that you will sign up for this event. If you have never done an event with TNT I think you will find yourself pleasantly surprised. If you're like me, you will raise the money with ease and find the physical training to be the tougher part. Whether you sign up for the full (26.2 miles) or the half (13.1 miles) you will feel incredible when you're all done. Don't be afraid to raise the money. IT WILL COME.

And sorry, just because I now work at Nike doesn't mean anyone of us automatically gets in...even me! All Nike employees have to get in through the lottery or TNT. No exceptions.

Please consider signing up for TNT. You won't regret it. I promise! Feel free to forward this to anyone you know that would be interested.

--


amy bartlett
www.ichoosehope.com
"Before cancer I just lived, now I live strong." -Lance Armstrong

Monday, February 25, 2008

And The Oscar Goes To...

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová for Falling Slowly from the beautiful independent film, Once.


This was easily the highlight of the night! I was so excited for them, a couple of independent musicians walking home with an Oscar. What are the chances? Their work in this film was fantastic and if you haven't seen Once, you should add it to the top of your Netflix queue immediately.

Glen gave the first acceptance speech:
Thanks! This is amazing. What are we doing here? This is mad. We made this film two years ago. We shot on two Handicams. It took us three weeks to make. We made it for a hundred grand. We never thought we would come into a room like this and be in front of you people. It's been an amazing thing. Thanks for taking this film seriously, all of you. It means a lot to us. Thanks to the Academy, thanks to all the people who've helped us, they know who they are, we don't need to say them. This is amazing. Make art. Make art. Thanks.


And God bless Jon Stewart for recognizing the importance of this moment and inviting Markéta back to the stage to give her acceptance speech after the music cut her off before one word escaped her lips.

Hi everyone. I just want to thank you so much. This is such a big deal, not only for us, but for all other independent musicians and artists that spend most of their time struggling, and this, the fact that we're standing here tonight, the fact that we're able to hold this, it's just to prove no matter how far out your dreams are, it's possible. And, you know, fair play to those who dare to dream and don't give up. And this song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are. And so thank you so much, who helped us along the way. Thank you.


Congratulations, Glen & Markéta! A well deserved honor.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I love LA!



If my cousin, Kathy, is trying to convince to stay in LA forever by offering me theatre tickets, it's working. Last night, I had planned to make dinner and watch the democratic debate. But then she called and gave me opportunity to see one of the many musicals I've been wanting to see for years, Wicked. Obviously, I put the chicken back in the refrigerator, recorded the debate & got ready to go to Pantages Theatre.

I was like a little kid, singing the songs, imagining the first moment that the lights dim & the orchestra's first notes fill the room. Melissa quickly implemented a "no singing songs from Wicked" rule in the car on the way to the show and I reluctantly agreed. It was her car, after all.

As we traveled down Hollywood Blvd., we found ourselves taking a detour due to a road closure. Why? Because the Kodak Theatre is on Hollywood Blvd. and they are setting up for the Oscars, of course! (Amy, welcome to LA.) We arrived, walked down Hollywood Blvd, noticing the stars beneath our feet, stopped for a cup of coffee and met my cousin's family just before the start of the show.

We had great seats and I throughly enjoyed the performance. It's a fun show that's completely over the top and still touching and funny. Again, I felt like a little kid as I allowed myself to enter the world and story that was presented to me. I think that's one of the things I love most about theatre. Imagination is a beautiful thing and when paired with live theatre, it's heaven.

LA is working out just fine.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Frozen Grand Central

How fun! Thanks to Ruth and Jon for introducing it to me.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Laundry Day

For most of you, going to the laundromat is likely nothing more than a distant memory. Well, some of us are still taking those Saturday or Sunday voyages and it can feel like an incarceration at times. You are trapped in a crowded and drab space, hoping the machines you need are available at the time you need them, and wishing you could stay focused on the book you brought to help pass the time rather that the many distractions competing for your attention.

My sister had passed by a laundromat in Culver City that she thought would make the experience more enjoyable so we ventured out on Saturday to try out the EZ Web Laundromat & Cafe. That's right, the words web, cafe & laundromat all used in the same sentence...or rather, the same business name. It's not perfect but it is certainly a step up from the usual laundry experience. It was a beautiful day so after we put our laundry in the washer, we went to the cafe where I purchased a hazelnut latte and melissa chose fruit juice and a banana, and we sat outside at a little round table where we read and took turns checking on the laundry. And did I mention that we had a nice view of the mountains when we looked up from our books? I mean really, there are some perks to living in LA. We didn't try out their wifi connection but for me, it's just the concept that's so great. Anything that makes going to the laundromat better than spending the day behind bars is A-OK by me!

Friday, February 8, 2008

My True Love


A special thank you to my cousin, Kathy, who invited my sister and me to join her for The Color Purple at the Ahmanson Theatre. Anyone that knows me, knows that theatre tickets are the way to my heart. Nothing moves me like the live theatre and last night's experience was no different.

I had heard mixed reviews of The Color Purple but I thought it was powerful, interesting, touching, and funny. It's difficult subject matter and I wondered how that would translate on the stage without being unbearably heavy but all involved wrote, composed and designed it well. While there are obvious leads in the show, the cast worked brilliantly as an ensemble. Having said that, Jeannette Bayardelle (Celie) deserves some praise. She gave us strong character development and powerful and emotive vocals that brought beauty, strength and humanity to the role of Celie. Overall, it was another wonderful night at the theatre. Thank you, Kath!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Monday, February 4, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Well, maybe not just yet but after a crazy couple weeks of sorting, purging, packing, shipping, and cleaning, and with the help of many generous people, I've made it to sunny southern California. My sister graciously made room for me in her life and apartment and today, I will begin trying to figure out exactly where I live. In case you were wondering, LA is huge and while this is not news to me, I've never had to figure out how to get around the area by myself. I'm sure it will provide many entertaining stories and I'll do my best to pass those along.

It feels good to be here even though so much is still unknown and there are many obvious differences between KC & LA. For one, my social calendar increased tenfold before I even made it out of LAX. Of course, that's evidence of moving nearer family but it made me laugh and it'll take some getting used to. As I mentioned above, I don't know where anything is and I'm still trying to avoid buying a car so I'll soon find out what their mass transit has to offer. I'm continuing my KC job for a month so that gives me some time to job search while still having an income, quite helpful. I love how many people are here, the diversity of the population & the fact that I can say goodbye to winter already! While all of this can be overwhelming at times, I'm really hopeful for this next stage of my life. Wonder what it will bring...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Overflowing

So much to say and yet I struggle to put all that I feel into words. I've wished many times over the last several weeks to add another entry here but I've not known where to begin. Today, I will do more than just stare at the empty screen. I will write something. It may not be inspiring or witty or even interesting but it will be something. I write more for myself than anyone else that might stop by, although I hope others find something of value in reading the experiences of another. There are many changes occurring in my life and I've always been one to document transitions. This is where I'll begin.

Over the last 5 days, I've taken a tour of my life as I've sifted through the boxes of what once was my childhood. I can't believe all that I've held onto for so many years or how much I've forgotten as the decades have passed by. It's been a long time since I've read through yearbooks, viewed drawings from my younger brothers, read cards and notes from my dear family and friends, looked through photographs of pigtails, braces and hair so big is would likely frighten small children. While I'm overwhelmed with the volume of these items, I'm also incredibly grateful for these momentos. I've had such a rich and blessed life. Not becasue of the things I've had so much as the people who have graced the pages of my story. I was given a loving family and the most caring friends from a very young age to now. I'm not sure why I've been so lucky but I will try my best to be continually thankful and offer the same beauty and generosity to those I share life with today.

I've taken this trip down memory lane in an effort to consolidate my belongings. Why? Because I'm moving and since I don't have a car or own enough to justify renting a moving truck, I'll be shipping everything I own (after selling or giving away my furniture) and flying to sunny LA. Kansas City has been my home for almost four years and while I've met some great people, it just hasn't worked for me. I'll spare you the details and say that I'm moving in order to find a place that better suits me. While I'm not sure LA is ideal, it's a good place to start. As usual, I'm a little nervous because I'm headed into the unknown again but I'm hopeful, too. I'll be living with my sister initially, continuing my current job for another month while looking for temp work. My plan is to work for a couple months then spend a month traveling internationally before returning to the states and facing real life and real jobs again. I haven't decided what county or countries I will visit but I'm excited about this adventure!

I have many more thoughts but I'll end here for today. I'm wishing you all a blessed and adventurous 2008.